Commentary: The EU is "lagging behind" in mineral trade regulation

Author: Michael Gibb, World Economic Forum, Published on: 3 December 2014

"Why Europe needs to regulate the trade in minerals", 2 Dec 2014

Natural resources should be a major contributor to development in some of the countries that need it most. And yet, in some of world’s poorest and most fragile states, they bring just the opposite. In many of these countries, the trade in natural resources motivates, funds, and prolongs conflict and egregious human-rights abuses...The deadly trade in conflict resources is facilitated by supply chains that feed major consumer markets, such as the European Union and the United States, with cash flowing back the other way...[T]he responsibility to reconcile global commerce with the protection of basic human rights does not fall first and foremost on consumers. Conflict prevention and human-rights protection are primarily the responsibility of states, and it is increasingly recognized that businesses must play their part as well...In 2011, the UN published a set of Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, according to which companies whose “operating contexts pose risks of severe human rights impacts should report formally on how they address them.” And yet, with the exception of a few progressive industry leaders, few companies have responded to this voluntary guidance...Responsible sourcing is a duty, not a choice. And here, the EU is lagging behind.

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